Our journey as a foster family started 15 years ago with The Children's Shelter. We never thought we would become adoptive parents; our focus was to provide a temporary and loving home to infants and children who were removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse. Our adoption story begins on March 27, 2013, when Jolie first arrived at our home. Jolie was born on March 13, but had to stay in the hospital due to drug exposure. I always feel as if I am babysitting the children placed in my home during that first week, but after that, a bond begins to form with the children and they become a part of our family.
Jolie was a good baby despite her circumstances, as drug exposure during utero can cause a myriad of complications after birth, which can include cognitive development delays and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For more than a year, Jolie was part of our family and at 14 months old, it was time for her to return to her biological mother on May 15, 2014. Jolie had weekly-scheduled visits with her mom, I felt as if we were her family.
After she returned to her biological mother, we stayed in contact with them both and even visited Jolie and her mother. As a foster mother, I work to have a good relationship with the biological family (if at all possible) and even to this day, we stay in touch with Jolie's biological mother. However, the reunification was short-lived and Jolie came back to live with us in October 2014. It was bittersweet, because it appeared Jolie was adjusting well, and as foster parents we develop a bond with the children and our home and we experienced some level of grieving. But Jolie arrived and made herself right at home as if she never left.
We had already adopted a child while through foster care with The Children’s Shelter, and it was a great experience, but we had no intention of adopting another child. The decision came after quite a bit of prayers and concerns. The main worry for my husband and I was our age. When we adopted our eldest daughter, who is now nearly 12, I was 47 years old and my husband was 50. She was only two years old at the time but we have had her since she was 10 days old. Adoption was a scary responsibility to take on at our age, but we loved her and knew if other “older” couples had successfully adopted, then we could do it too. The Children’s Shelter guided us through the entire foster care and adoption process. They informed us of the college benefits available to adopted children over the age of two. We were concerned about providing the opportunity for our children to attend college, and what our age would be at that time.
The entire transition process was easy. We had been a licensed foster care family 15 years prior and to become an adoptive family, we had to update an element of our home study, which was completed within a fair amount of time. When Jolie became legally available for adoption, we were again faced with the same concerns, but now even more so. This time I was 56 years old, and my husband was 59. We were faced with people telling us how old we would be when she graduates from high school, and to our surprise, there were a few family members who were not supportive. However, The Children’s Shelter was always there for us, and they understood our concerns.
After reflection and prayers, we made the decision to step out in faith, and adopt the little girl who had stolen our hearts over two years ago. On October 2, 2015, she became a legal member of our family. The Children’s Shelter even supported our choice of adoption date. October 2 was the birthday of our first biological child, who passed at the age of two weeks. Today, she would now be 27 years old. Now we have two reasons to celebrate October 2-the birthday of our first daughter, Sophie, and the adoption of our last daughter, Jolie. God works in mysterious ways.
*Top Image: The Ennis Family. Courtesy Photo.